The Jazzlines Month: February 2014

Looking back at January the Jazzlines year began with some excellent gigs in the Symphony Hall foyer, especially that of trumpeter Bryan Corbett’s new project, which is a collaboration with bass player Chris Dodd, called theGreen Quartet.

They have recorded an album with Chris playing all the instruments apart from the trumpet, but for this live gig they were joined by Sean Hargreaves on piano and Fender Rhodes and Mark Fletcher on drums. It was wonderful to hear that Bryan is back on top form and developing new material.

This opening gig was followed by excellent gigs in Symphony Hall Café Bar with bands led by Jim Bashford, Tim Amann and Andy Bunting. We also presented Mike Fletcher’s Trio at the University of Birmingham’sBramall Music Building and the Conservatoire Jazz Composers Ensemble at The Jam House.

The undoubted highlight in January was, however, the concert at the CBSO Centre with Empirical joined on their short tour by the Benyounes String Quartet. This was a new project for Empirical and further proof that they are one of the most adventurous and farsighted groups in British jazz today. It all worked extremely well and the concert was enjoyed by a very healthy crowd.

The highlight for February is certainly the return of Tim Berne, who is coming with his latest project, B, B and C – a trio with Nels Cline on guitar and Jim Black Black on drums. Jazzlines and its previous incarnation has had a long fruitful relationship with Tim; it commissioned the extended work Impacted Wisdom in the early 1990s for his Caos Totale band plus Django Bates and has presented virtually every group of his since then. Tim’s music seems to switch between more composed projects, Snake Oil being latest of these, and more improvised projects. B, B and C falls into the latter category, but Tim has always introduced interesting composed sections into any project of his.

Tim Berne is rightly considered to be one of the major figures of the so-called ‘downtown scene’ in New York. This was a movement that came out of a scene in the lower part of Manhattan and had a very open approach to the music drawing on other styles and rejecting the conservatism of much of the New York scene of the time. This movement has produced some of the most exciting music of the last twenty years and has had a strong influence on the younger UK scene and players such as one of our Jazzlines Fellows Dan Nicholls. Dan even named a tune The Berne Conspiracy in honour of Tim!

Dan has been recording in Symphony Hall with musicians Tom Challenger, Tom Farmer and Jon Scott recently, under the collective moniker of Dice Factory. More news on that soon…

Around this time last year, we reported that four Birmingham musicians were to spend a week in Chicago, playing with leading musicians there as part of an innovative exchange project between the twinned cities. One of the group, composer and pianist Steve Tromans, continues to write on his experience and has produced this insightful article.

– Tony Dudley-Evans, Jazz Adviser

Image: Lucy Wood